It has been a while since I have put some digitalized words on electronic paper and I confess that although I do not consider myself a writer, deep down, I wish I were. And despite the calamities of being infused with a hybrid linguistic nature, I strive to do my best, simply because I do not believe that a photograph speaks of a thousand words, because undeniable and futilely more than a thousand words and feelings lay outside the confinement of the creator’s accurate rectangle. “There is no such thing as inaccuracy in a photograph. All photographs are accurate, none of them is the truth” was the response of Richard Avedon on criticism about his project, In The American West.
A thousand words are not enough to express the profusion of feelings, both esoteric and external, as the experience of being under a steel bridge in Brownsville, Penn., American built and proudly connecting families, memories and plights on each side of the Monongahela River in Western Penn. and especially if that entails, at least to me, a diner reminiscent of Edward Hopper’s painting “Nighthawks”. I always had a special affinity with diners and I consider them to be the mecca of personal interaction, a social landscape that till this day overpowers and I feel will continue to triumph the platform you are reading this post. If only we could let go of our supposedly hectic schedules and superfluous “social” activities and meet under the steel bridge in the twilight hours of a November evening and that needed conversation, any conversation, is needless to say, imperative, if not a little tardy.
About twenty-years ago, when I started my journey in the editorial world, I felt that it was all about the photographing, the adrenaline to get “the shot”, to deliver for the pleasure of the editor and a possible cover photo. Things changed and it has come to be about something else which at times is difficult to put into words. I truly believe that it is not even about photography anymore, no longer about the nuances that exist in the landscape, no longer about the tattered walls and the misty mornings which subconsciously confine you with their seductive ominous but welcoming gaze. You think you are looking at them, that you are the explorer, the artist, the hunter of the street ready to capture, but in reality they are looking at you. They are capturing your gaze and asking for your attention, hoping that you will not take and leave, as you normally do. It’s in the fleeting moments being incarcerated into someone else’s conviction because he just happen to be there. But maybe he should have been somewhere else, maybe I should have been somewhere else, but he didn’t have a choice, just like me.
I always go back, because I want to be looked at, again, by the tattered walls and the inviting stillness, but mostly the warmth of this diner window that becomes a stage, under the melancholic notes of the fiddle that melts the steel while the drum of the passing train passes by, rattling along the river. But I have never experienced this warmth with coffee and cigarettes, because I am waiting for you, to have that talk, the much-needed one about the land, you and me.